Two Canadian budgets, two massive losses for horse racing.
In New Brunswick, 60% of the funding for purses was cut. In Ontario, the plan from a month or so ago, was all systems go:
- There’s not going to be a horse industry as we know it,” Glenn
Sikura, president of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society’s Ontario
division, said after the budget speech by Finance Minister Dwight
Duncan.“If their plan goes through, I think it could be the end
of horse racing,” said Sue Leslie, president of the Ontario Horse Racing
- Since 1998, $3.7 billion has been provided to the horseracing
industry in Ontario, including $345 million in 2011–12. As part of OLG’s
modernization process, the government reviewed this support for the
horseracing industry, as outlined in the previous government’s 1998
letter of intent. In doing so, the government determined that the
industry needs to move towards greater self-sufficiency without
government support. This will allow the industry to respond
competitively to market demands for its racing product.
The government remains committed to supporting horseracing through its reduction to the Province’s pari-mutuel tax. This leaves wagering revenues with the industry for programming support.
"This leaves wagering revenues with the industry for programming support."
For all of us - and there are thousands - who've been saying for a long time that "there's only one customer for horse racing, the bettor", it looks to be finally here. And that's clearly not good news. The alienated bettor has long left the building.
The narrative that Woodbine would be fine through this might be showing some cracks. Even they sound pretty frightened:
- Eaves said he was not sure if gambling machines would stay in place at Woodbine and Mohawk, but the two intend to stay in business.“We’re two of the OLG’s largest money-producing sites,” Eaves said. “Our mandate, as a racetrack, is to make the maximum amount of money we can and to put on the best horse racing we can.”
Where do we go from here? Honestly, I think that is a guess. The final chapter, the final cuts, the final gaming plan all have yet to be publicly finalized.